Connie Lawn: NZ Lecture at Georgetown University

Article – Connie Lawn

Professor David Small presented a brilliant lecture about race relations in New Zealand. He is usually a Senior Lecturer at the University of Canterbury. But this semester he is teaching at the famous Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where he is …


NZ Lecture at Georgetown University, November 10, 2011

Report from Connie Lawn

professor david small

Professor David Small presented a brilliant lecture about race relations in New Zealand. He is usually a Senior Lecturer at the University of Canterbury. But this semester he is teaching at the famous Georgetown University in Washington D.C. where he is a Fulbright Scholar attached to the Center for Australian and New Zealand Studies. The Center has grown in popularity over the years, and attracts some of the finest visiting scholars.

The lecture was entitled, “Paradise Lost? Beyond the Myth of Racial Harmony in New Zealand.” The picture was not always pretty, but similar problems and situations exist in the United States and other countries. In his introduction, professor Small said, “Fifty years ago, New Zealanders prided themselves on enjoying harmonious relations between the Maori and Pakeha. Now, the issue of race relations has become divisive and volatile. This lecture examines the demise of New Zealand’s once-cherished national myth of being a multiracial paradise.”

Professor Small presented a tour de force of race relations, beginning with the Colonial era. Many of the historic facts are well known in New Zealand, but were new to some of the international audience. The Professor said life expectancy is shorter among the Maori population, there is more criminal activity, more mental illness, and an impression that “prisons are the place for Maori.” He said the situation can be even more dismal for the Polynesian population. He also talked about a backlash and the campaign to end race based policies.

Professor Small said the Rugby World Cup, and the earthquakes, did bring more people together as New Zealanders, for a while. But he indicated there is a lot of work to do to improve racial relations.

He could well have been discussing any other country in the world.

….Connie Lawn, at Georgetown University, in Washington DC

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